In the fall of 2000, a woman whom California Supreme Court documents identify only as “Bridget B.” tested positive for HIV. Her husband, “John B.”—whom Bridget claims had “unprotected sex with multiple men before and during their marriage without her knowledge”—tested positive soon after. Bridget alleges that his “negligent” behavior was the cause of her infection, and in July 2006, the California Supreme Court said she could launch a civil suit against him. The case is pending. Immediately, speculation arose: Would the bench’s decision clog courtrooms with purely spiteful suits? Would it force suspected infectors statewide to disclose their sexual or drug history? POZ asked legal experts to weigh in. “The court’s ruling is very narrow and applies only to people in monogamous relationships [who do not disclose their risk behavior],” says Lambda Legal Defense Fund’s Jon Givner. However, he adds, it could cause an increase in lawsuits that will not hold up in court but will nonetheless invade people’s privacy. California attorney Gloria Allred, who was involved in the O.J. Simpson and Scott Peterson trials, says, “It’s saying that one would have to disclose the frequency and nature of the high-risk behavior but not the names. It’s about negligence. It’s the right decision.” HIV positive West Hollywood councilmember and lawyer John Duran, says, “The decision balances the right to privacy with the right to discovery. And as an HIV positive person, I believe that we do have the legal and moral obligation to do no harm, just as HIV negative people have an obligation to protect themselves.” Gavel.
So Sue Me
Will Californians cash in on a case that allows them to sue their suspected infector?